Friday, September 21, 2012

Linguine with Sausage, Fennel, and Clams

This recipe had a delicious unique flavor that I've never had before- the savory sausage cooks down with some fennel, and the clams cook in this fragrant mixture, with the little bits nestling in the clams as they open.  Then, when tossing with pasta a horseradish cream sauce is added which gives the dish a whole new level of complexity.   It also adds heat without making the dish "spicy."  

Sugar snap peas are mixed in with the pasta which adds a bit of sweetness, and some fresh green crunch.  We got some bacon-sausage from a farmer's market and it was amazing in this dish.  Italian Sausage from your local grocery store would work too, but if you can find it fresh I would definitely recommend it.  If you can't get littleneck clams, this would be good with another type of clam or with mussels, just check the cooking time for whatever you end up using because it might vary. This recipe was adapted from it's posting on Serious Eats, which got the original recipe from Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard. 
  • 1/2 cup crema or creme fraiche
  • 1/3 cup prepared horseradish (make sure you don't get "horseradish sauce" by accident; the prepared horseradish should be in the refrigerated section.)
  • 4 ounces sugar snap peas (about 2 cups) thawed if you are using frozen
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 lb bacon-sausage or mild Italian pork sausage, casings removed
  • 1 pound dried linguine
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 lb littleneck clams, or other variety (rinsed)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by making the cream sauce.  Combine the crema and horseradish in a small bowl and set aside.  
Next, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the snap peas. [Skip this step if you used frozen snap peas that are thawed]  Cook until almost tender, about 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the water behind to cook the pasta. Run cold water over them to stop the cooking.  Leave the pot on the heat. 
Meanwhile, add the oil to a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.  Add the sausage, and break it up into little chunks until it is fully browned, about 5-7 min.  Next, add the fennel, shallot, and garlic to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.  Taste for salt- depending on your sausage you may or may not need it here.  Add some freshly ground black pepper.
Mix in the Sriracha, and then pour the wine in the skillet, scraping up any bits that might have stuck to the bottom.  

Add the clams, nestling them in to the sausage and fennel mixture.  Put a lid on and let them cook for the appropriate time, until they have all opened.  Ours took 10-12 minutes.  

While the clams are cooking, put your linguine in the boiling pot of water and cook until al dente.  Drain, and mix in your sugar snap peas.  
When the clams have opened, pour the entire mixture into the pasta.  Stir in the horseradish cream sauce, and serve!
The flavor of this dish is so amazing with all the flavors combined.  The crema really mellows out the horseradish so it doesn't take over the dish.  We'll definitely be making this one again!

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